The NBA lockout has reached a point of peril. Games have been canceled and the season hangs in the balance. Not even a federal negotiator could make progress between owners and players. Commissioner David Stern has been on a bad news PR tour that rivals 2008 Sarah Palin in both rhetoric and frequency of appearance. The players have accused the owners of flat out lying and are preaching a desperate message of unity. The rest of the country will tell us to watch NCAA basketball or the NFL, but NBA die-hards know there are no substitutes. We love our sport—a unique piece of Americana that could never be captured in a Ken Burns documentary. The NBA is more visceral than that. So, what are we NBA devotees supposed to do while our favorite sport is put on hold? Here are our suggestions:
Stay informed. NBA sportswriting has never been more honest and frank than it is right now. Even the most mainstream media outlets like ESPN and Sports Illustrated have held nothing back in calling out by name key league figures responsible for the current bleak situation. For daily updates, look to Tom Ziller, who is serving as the NBA lockout Paul Krugman, providing the cold, depressing realities of the situation, translating owner/commissioner/player doublespeak, and breaking down labor economics in a way that even a toddler could follow. In addition, Twitter has never been livelier, with players offering both insightful and hilarious commentary on the labor dealings, and LeBron James lobbying for a job with the Seattle Seahawks.
Get familiar. Just because the NBA is not in session does not mean pro basketball has stopped. Find out where these guys are going to be playing while the season is not in session. Many like Kevin Durant have taken to the most historic streetball courts, playing at Dyckman Park or the Rucker. Others are hosting charity games, such as the Michael Beasley All Star Classic in Osseo, Minnesota featuring Durant, Kevin Love, John Wall, and a slew of others including a celebrity coaching appearance by the Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson. Finally, some like the Nets’ Deron Williams are heading overseas, tearing up the league in Turkey. Many players with international ties, such as Tony Parker, are connecting with teams in their home countries, and even Kobe Bryant is talking about heading to Italy. NBA diehards are usually up at all hours, so find an international stream online and tune into Euroball at odd hours of the night. The game will never die.
Never forget. While the negotiations drag on, it would serve NBA fans well to recall the good times. The 2010-2011 season was one of the best seasons ever. Before it even reached the point of Dirk’s dramatics, Rajon Rondo’s elbow-popping gutsiness, Zach Randolph’s redemption, and the eventual downfall of the Miami Heat in the postseason, we had a regular season full of Blake Griffin’s otherworldly athletics, Kevin Love’s rebounding heroics, and John Wall’s dazzling playmaking skills. The NBA season will commence eventually, and the more we remind ourselves and others of how great this current era of the league is, the sooner we can make that a reality.